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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 04:10 GMT 05:10 UK
Peru elections cannot erase past
Peruvian presidential candidate Alan Garcia on the campaign trail
Who ever wins the election will still have to win public confidence
By Peter Greste in Lima

The man leading the Organisation of American States observer mission to Peru said that the country's new government should not expect a honeymoon period after Sunday's election.

The delegation leader Eduardo Stein told the BBC that the corruption scandals of the past months have left the voters deeply disillusioned with their political classes.

The regaining of the trust of Peruvian society in their own institutions is something that will take quite a long time

Eduardo Stein
This has not been an easy political transition for Peruvians, they are about to go to the polls to vote for their first elected president since Alberto Fujimori fled to Japan last year.

Mr Fujimori left a corruption scandal that touched virtually every sector of the country's business and political life.

The details dribbled out in a series of videos showing Mr Fujimori's spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, blackmailing and bribing his way through countless businessmen, judges and politicians.

Untold damage

Mr Stein says the whole episode has done untold damage to public confidence.

"What they have witnessed in their own TV sets, in their own homes, is of such an enormous proportion, so the regaining of the trust of Peruvian society in their own institutions is something that will take quite a long time," he said.

The effect of past events has created a deep cynicism that is likely to have a direct impact on the government from the moment a winner is declared

Mr Stein says this is likely to affect how the public judges the new government.

"Peruvians are not going to grant the new administration a four month, five month, six month grace period," he said.

Tainted by corruption

Alberto Fujimori
Many of Fujimori's allies are still in power

Whichever of the two candidates win - Alejandro Toledo or former President Alan Garcia - as the national leader, either man will need to prove that they are free of the corruption of old.

But the official investigating the affair, Jose Ugaz, says the stain runs so deep that it may never fully disappear.

"There have been hundreds of people linked to Montesinos and his organisation. We believe there still are people linked to Montesinos that are in some posts as public officers or linked to power," he said.

Without at least a sliver of public faith, any new administration will find it extremely tough to push through the kinds of reforms that Peru so desperately needs.

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See also:

09 Apr 01 | Americas
Run-off to decide Peru president
09 Apr 01 | Americas
Q & A: What next for Peru?
20 May 01 | Americas
Peru election debate turns nasty
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